A blog by runners. For runners.

Running for fitness

running-for-fitnessWe’re a little race heavy around here, huh? While training is exciting, it’s certainly not for everyone.

For the first four years of my running “career”, I didn’t race. I was in school and, frankly, I couldn’t justify paying to run a race when I could run on my own for free (in 2011, the average price of the top 100 marathons in the U.S. was $89 – not cheap).

Plus, I was happy just running for fitness. I ran most days of the week, for 30-60 minutes each time depending on how I felt. I didn’t know how far I ran or what my pace was and I didn’t care. I was in shape and enjoyed running, and that’s all that mattered to me.

Meet the physical activity recommendations

If your running goal is to stay fit, be sure to follow the physical activity guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Meeting or exceeding these exercise recommendations will keep you fit and reduce your risk of health conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.

Each week, aim for at least:

  • 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity, such as slow running or run/walking. You can break up these 150 minutes in whatever way works best for your schedule – try 30 minutes, 5 days per week or 30 minutes, 3 days per week plus an hour-long session on the weekend.

Or

  • 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity, such as running non-stop.

Or

  • A combination of both moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity that meets the recommendations.

Note that the physical activity guidelines also include 2 days of muscle-strengthening activities per week, such as weight-lifting or yoga.

If you are trying to lose weight or maintain weight loss, it’s a good idea to exercise a bit more. Experts suggest 5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise or 2 hours and 30 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week for weight loss and greater health benefits. By running for 30-60 minutes, 5 days per week, you will meet these guidelines.

Tips to run for fun

Stay running by following these tips:

  • Invest in a quality pair of running shoes. Yes, you still need good running shoes even if you never race. Running in quality shoes and replacing them often will lower your risk of injuries.
  • Beware the terrible “toos”. True, running as fast as you can for two miles every workout will help you meet the physical activity recommendations, but probably only temporarily. Don’t go “all out” on every run. On the same note, don’t run for an hour or more on every run either. Running too hard, too far, or too often will only lead to injury and burnout.
  • Switch it up. If you run the same route every day at about the same pace, your body will stop responding. Try hill work or running intervals – pick up the pace for a minute, every three minutes or so. Switching up your workouts will help you boost your metabolism and overcome weight loss plateaus.
  • Listen to your body. Take at least one day off from exercise each week. If you have any aches and pains or feel especially fatigued, take an extra day or two off from running. Walk or do other cross-training instead.

Written by Jen Matz.

Related: